A Tory MP has attacked the government for its blanket ban on gay men donating blood after it was revealed "no research" had been done to support the controversial rule.
Outspoken Conservative Michael Fabricant asked the Department of Health whether it had researched the prevalence of viral diseases like HIV or Hepatitis B in men who are in same sex marriages and civil partnerships and compared this with other sexually active gay men.
Minister for Public Health Jane Ellison answered there was no such research, prompting Fabricant to claim her "very disappointing" response showed the ban had no basis.
He said men in monogamous relationships or who practise safe sex should not be part of the ban. The current rules forbid a man from giving blood if he has had sex with another man in the last year.
Very disappointed that in a Parliamentary Written Answer, Minister of Public Health reveals no research undertaken into gay blood ban.— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2015
Here is Jane Ellison's answer to my Question. There is no clear basis for the Gay Blood Donation Ban. pic.twitter.com/02SM8jq7J3— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2015
Last year, the #NHS blood bank in England was within 3 days of running dry. We need new blood donors. Illogical bans on donors must stop.— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2015
1 Can be reduced to 6-9 months
2 Should not apply to monogamous or safe-sex
3 More research pic.twitter.com/IKuLysrCaD— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2015
When he was accused of being illogical, Fabricant said the ban was "based on fear" and said he was "not talking out of [his] arse!"
And I, at least, have an MSc etc & am not talking out of my arse!— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2015
The NHS says men should not give blood if they have had sex with another man "with or without a condom".
Earlier this month, it was revealed the number of people giving blood had fallen 40% in a decade, with 120,000 fewer people giving blood in 2014/15 compared with 2004/05.
Fabricant introduced a Private Member's Bill last year calling for the ban on gay men donating blood to be lifted.
He said at the time: "It cannot be logical that a gay man practising safe sex with a single partner is banned from giving blood while a straight man having unsafe sex with multiple partners can.
"There is no logic to this and it is unnecessarily discriminatory."
In June last year, the Department of Health rejected calls from the Green Party for a review of the ban.
A spokesman told Pink News: "The 12-month deferral reflects the heightened risk men who have sex with men have from blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B.
“It allows for the period of time these viruses can go undetected by screening tests and lessens the risk of infection in people who need blood donations.”
HuffPost UK's Celebrity Editor Matt Bagwell blogged that the ban "makes my un-donatable blood boil".
He wrote: "I know I'm not the only gay man who wouldn't hesitate in donating, given half the chance. In fact I'd hedge my bets and say, collectively, gay men could supply all of the required quota.
"Of course, we could give blood if we really wanted to, thanks to the lifetime ban on gay men donating being lifted in 2011. However, we'd all have to abstain from any nookie for a whole year."
The Huffington Post UK asked the Department of Health to respond to Fabricant's comments but had not received a reply as this article went live.